Life’s a REACH, and Then You Dye
E.U. politicians agree to disagree on chemical-regulations law
Late last night, over croissants and Grolsch, E.U. member states and the European Parliament reached a deal on a controversial rule regulating 30,000 chemicals produced in or imported to Europe. The Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals directive, known as REACH, has caused strain between governments, industry, and green groups for several years. Looks like industry won: while the law will restrict the use of the most dangerous chemicals unless safer options aren’t available, it will allow “progressive substitution” of others — in other words, “Eh, use an alternative when you get around to it, if it comes cheap.” Greens are crying foul, and several countries have blamed the powerful German chemical industry for lobbying to weaken the law, which will go into effect in April pending final approval this month. “This is sad and shows that, apparently, power is more important than the environment and public health,” said Swedish green Jens Holm. Well, duh.